(L-R): Percussionist Ajene Washington, poet and vocalist DFaye Anderson, poets Pearl Williams and Roger Parris (Ajene Washington photo)

Black Music Month, like Black History Month, is 24/7, 365 days per year. Black Music is Black life, Black Music is the American experience, Black Music is wanting to be free in a social structured society, Black Music is Black Power, Black Music is black seeds keep on growing, Black Music is Sly Stone, Black Music is Never gonna to give U up, Black Music is Standing Tall when u too tired to fall, Black Music is searching for freedom instead of ways to keep from dying, Black Music is Playthell writings, Black Music is the Baptist church, Black Music is bitches brew, Black Music is Sun Ra Black futurism, Black Music is Edenwald projects, Black Music is Do or Die, Black Music is Frederick Douglass, Black Music is being Black and never letting them forget, Black Music is Harlem then and Now, Black Music is standing on Lenox Avenue, Black Music is Black Women 24/7, Black Music is kissing in the dark, Black Music is Thomas A. Dorsey, Black Music is the Amsterdam News still Growing, Black Music is Africa, Black Music is everything u wanted to say But didn’t, Black Music is preparation for spiritual warfare, Black Music is Black struggle in the 21st century, Black Music is the Inner City Blues, Black Music is the essential Harold Cruse, Black Music is Ismael Reed, Black Music is Amiri Baraka, Black Music is the gospel truth.     

The Boogie Down Bronx, the home of hip hop, celebrating its 50th anniversary, the home of Latin music where salsa was king, and jazz was hip and swinging, will be in full swing for the month of June (for four consecutive weekends). The Bronx River Art Center (1087 East Tremont Avenue) will present its 20th annual Bronx River Sounds Performing Arts Festival: Roots of Rhythms: Celebrating our Caribbean Diversity. The rhythms of jazz, Latin and Caribbean music are distinctive sounds of the black diaspora but these imaginative musicians will add their own cultural experience to the mix. June 9 will feature Santi DeBriano and Akestra Bembe. The large ensemble playing from Panamanian roots, includes five horns, and four rhythm sections. The band recently released their debut album Ashanti (Jojo Records, 2023), it is DeBriano’s eighth released album, he has recorded with Oliver Lake, Archie Shepp, Kirk Lightsey and David Murray. June 10 will present Valtinho Anastacio Duo, an infusion of Brazilian sounds. On June 16, Victor Santos y Ocho con Clave will enthrall devoted dancers with that old school east Harlem salsa. On June 17—although he’s a Bronx cat, Harlem and the mother country have adopted him as their respected son—is drummer, composer and multi-media musician Will Calhoun and Euphonious Ensemble Afro-Futurism Jazz. Calhoun, an innovative bandleader and member of Living Colour, is known for playing in the box, out the box, into yester-now.  June 23 Kinton Zono-Bomba y Plena and June 24 Yacouba Sissoko-Kora, performing the music of Mali…all sets begin at 7:30pm-8:45pm. 

Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and $10 for students. For a complete schedule, visit bronxriverart.org or call 718-589-5189.

In this post-pandemic world where even the sane seem insane, and certain politicians have lost all sense of humanity, the POTLUCK POETS will offer an afternoon of moving poetry, stimulating short stories, and rousing music, on June 9, at 3pm, at Chauncey Hopper Towers (10 West 138th Street). 

RELATED: Jazz and hip-hop: A longtime collaboration

The POTLUCK POETS include percussionist Ajene Washington, poet and vocalist DFaye Anderson, poets Pearl Williams and Roger Parris. They are a collective of artists, who came together to share their extensive experience in the literary and performing arts while honoring their creative ancestors, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, James Baldwin and the many whose shoulders they stand on. This event is free and open to the public.    

Celebrating its 27th year, the Vision Festival: Improvising the Future (this year’s theme) is the primary radical force that annually presents music in its organic state without added ingredients of r&b or smooth jazz to attract a wider audience, kicks off on June 10, 12-18 pm at various sites on the Lower East Side. The festival will bring together over one hundred artists of various disciplines—avant-garde, poetry, visual arts, dance, and more to share the message of hope and justice with unencumbered creativity.

The festival will kick off two days of panel discussions that will challenge the social structure and inspire conversation with Arts for Art & Rutgers Advanced Institute for Critical Caribbean Studies Conference on the Legacies of Black Creative Arts/Spirit of the Ancestors. 

The panel discussions are from 10am-5:30pm. The first panel “Ancestral Spirits from the African Diaspora” will be moderated by Nelson Maldonado-Torres, Co-Chair of the Frantz Fanon Foundation and Professor Extraordinarious at the Institute for Social and Health Sciences, University of South Africa. Some panelists include Nana Sula Janet Evans, priestess, singer, and artist, and noted Afro-Latina activist Marta Moreno Vega, the founder of the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI). She led El Museo del Barrio among others. Takes place at The Clemente: Flamboyan Theater, 107 Suffolk Street

On June 12, the conference on the Ecology of Media and Music Accessibility takes place from noon to 5:30pm at Roulette Intermedium, 509 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn. The noon panel, A Point of Comparison – Media in the 1960s, ‘70s & ‘80s, will be moderated by executive director and founder of Arts for Art, dancer and poet Patricia Nicholson. Some of the panelists will include Sharif Abdus-Salaam, WKCR-FM; author and columnist Gary Giddins’ activist, author and Amsterdam News writer Herb Boyd; and bassist, poet, and author William Parker among others. Both conferences are free to the public in-person or streaming.

This year, Vision is partnering with The Clemente and Roulette Intermedium to present two days of films. On June 10 at 6:30pm they will present Janz in the Moment (about the visual artist Robert Janz) at The Clemente. On June 12 at Roulette Intermedium at 6:30, will show Affamée (a film about this year’s Vision Festival Lifetime Achievement Recipient Joëlle Léandre) and In Modern Time (about saxophonist Sonny Simmons). Tickets are $10 per night.

The music performances kick off on June 13 at Roulette Intermedium. The evening will present Vision Festival’s Lifetime Achievement awardee, bassist composer Joelle Leandre performing in various configurations. On June 14, Hamid Drake’s Turiya: Honoring Alice Coltrane with spoken-word and dance; Mark Dresser 7 ensemble with flutist Nicole Mitchel, violinist Keir GoGwilt, pianist Joshua White. On June 16, Matthew Shipp Quartet and Mississippi to NY Freedom Band. On June 17, it’s MiM Intergenerational Ensemble directed by bassist William Parker; pianist Dave Burell with tenor saxophonist Joe McPhee. The festival finale on June 18 features; Melanie Dyer We Free Strings Band and the Reggie Workman Celebration Band featuring an all-star cast with tenor saxophonist Odean Pope, pianist Jason Moran, vocalist Jen Shyu, harpist Elizabeth Panzer, drummer Gerry Hemingway.

All events are live in-person and streamed. For a complete schedule of all Vision Festival events and tickets visit the website artsforart.org. 

The Vision Festival reflects jazz boundlessness, its insistent improvisation that plays to a multicultural multi-jazz culture to express a larger more positive dream of inclusion and freedom.

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